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Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995 Paperback – 12 Apr 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; New Ed edition (12 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022408089X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224080897
  • Product Dimensions: 25.1 x 18.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Safe Area Gorazde is a harrowing documentary comic destined to become a classic of war reporting. In the waning days of the Bosnian war, Joe Sacco, the cartoonist behind the acclaimed Palestine, made several visits to Gorazde, a UN "safe area" that had been repeatedly attacked by Serb forces. He interviewed survivors of the Serb siege and assembled their recollections. Sacco depicts the atrocities of the war in simple, restrained panels, but his attention to detail is everywhere, from the accurate renderings of mortar scars on the landscape to the history lessons carefully embedded throughout the comic.

Sacco never descends into sensationalism or exploitation of the war's victims, but instead adopts a subjective gaze that places readers in hiding spots from which they can only catch glimpses of the murders and rapes. Sacco leaves the particulars of these crimes up to the imagination of his readers, which is appropriate enough given the unthinkable nature of what took place in Gorazde.

The real impact of Safe Area lies in Sacco's immersion in the daily life of Gorazde. While other journalists left Gorazde as soon as they had the clips they needed, Sacco lived in the town for weeks at a time, becoming a vicarious resident. Although the conflict was largely over by this point, Gorazde was still surrounded and Sacco was an eyewitness to his friends' struggle not only to survive but also to maintain their sanity.

Safe Area is not just a catalogue of horrors and a condemnation of international indifference; it's also a moving portrayal of the human capacity to endure almost any hardship. Sacco refuses to fall into any clichés about the triumph of the human spirit here--the people of Gorazde themselves reject such notions--but he does offer up Safe Area as a testament to its survival. --Peter Darbyshire, Amazon.ca --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Sacco has produced a work that improbably manages to combine rare insight into what the war in Bosnia felt like on the ground with a mature and nuanced political and historical understanding of the conflict... Of the myriad books that have appeared about Bosnia, few have told the truth more bravely than Sacco. He is an immense talent, from whom we will hear a great deal more." (David Rieff New York Times Book Review)

"Harrowing and bleakly humorous, Sacco's account of life during the Balkan conflict is a timeless portrait of ordinary people caught in desperate circumstances. It's also a work of genius in an unlikely genre: journalism in comic book form." (Utne Reader)

"Like Art Spiegelman's Maus, Sacco's book juxtaposes the pop style of comics with human tragedy, making the brutality of war all the more jarring." (Time)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What can I say about this book? It's incredible. When I started reading, I have to admit to being a bit disappointed. Sacco was going round, meeting people, socialising, not saying a lot about the war, and when he did mention it, it was all stuff I already knew, that anyone who's watched the news while it was going on knows. The backdrops indicated the war, the poverty was obvious, but I didn't feel like I was learning anything apart from seeing people sit around, drink, and chat. And then, about a third of the way through, boom. Suddenly it hit me. These people, I was starting to feel like I knew them. And then one left for the front line. And I was terrified to turn the page. I knew that he might not come back. And that this was a real man, not some work of fiction. And it was at that point, that the whole cruel, callousness of the war hit, and at that point, I started to learn something. Detail. Detail I'd never seen before, and might have been happier never knowing. And told by humans, real people. And it still terrifies me. This book has the potted history of the war, the enclave, and the human factor that we miss in so many, many of the war reports we're used to seeing. Sacco spent four weeks in Gorazde, and in that time he lived with some of the residents. And it's given him an insight into the place that I don't think you'll find anywhere else.
Oh, and a final note. It's a graphic novel. A comic. And this shouldn't put you off. This is one of the finest uses of the medium I've seen, and helps tell the story in a way straight prose can't. The horror presented starkly in front of you is something I doubt many can imagine, even through the greatest descriptions, because we don't want to. Here you have nowhere to hide. Buy this book. You will not regret it.
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Format: Paperback
While graphic novels have been around for quite a while, graphic journalism or history has not. Sacco is a pioneer of this extremely humanistic new genre, and here he bears witness to the horrors of the war in Bosnia. Sacco visited the so-called "safe area" four times in late 1995 and early 1996, and his portrait of a devastated city and its survivors is more affecting than any newspaper account could hope to be. His black ink panels capture in vivid detail not only the scars left on the landscape, but on the people themselves. Sacco alternates between detailing his own visits to Gorazde, a straightforward history of the war, and letting his friends and interviewees recount their own terrible experiences.
His own visits are fairly basic, everyone is frightened and devastated by the war and he experiences the guilt of one able to come and go as he pleases. The history of the war is very clearly told, with maps and pertinent statements from UN leaders, Clinton, Milosavich, et al. Sacco clearly highlights how ineffective and downright cowardly the UN approach was, singling out British Lt. General Rose and French Lt. General Janvier for lying and dissembling in order to avoid conflict, and the Clinton administration for being inept and vacillating toward the Serbs. The history is a stark reminder that in the absence of a superpower with a vested interest, one cannot expect loose multinational efforts to deter genocide. Throughout the war, due to a total lack of leadership and moral will from above, UN forces were pushed around, held hostage, and at times fled into the night rather than protect the civilians they were supposed to. Which brings one to the most compelling and disturbing parts of the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone who 'missed' the war this is an immense read from both a very localised perspective but also it gives the overall picture and causes of the conflict. One could be forgiven for dismissing the 'comic' book style outright but I can only confirm with others that it is a masterly approach to bringing a conflict to life. It is a work of art on one level and a literary one also.
I was old enough to understand the war when it took place but found that it was delivered on the news in a way that failed to illustrate the causes and therefore without the foundations to understand what was going on it passed me by.
I bought this together with Martin Bell's ( BBC journalist) 'In Harms Way'. Both are great books in their own right and I now feel enlightened and have a far greater understanding that would enable me to hold my own in any discussion about it.
I have also bought the memoirs of Colonel Bob Stewart, who commanded the 1st Cheshire's in their tour as UN peacekeepers, but am yet to read it.
This tragic episode in post WW" history has largely been passed over although its repercussions are still being contested in the Court at Hague and the Dutch Courts because of their guilt over the atrocities that they could have perhaps prevented.
Any doubts...don't have...buy it.
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Superb account of the awful war in Bosnia. Brings together the large picture and individual stories to create a gripping account of a journalist's time in Goražde. Telling the story in the form of a graphic novel is stunning. First time I've read a graphic novel written about "real" life - and I was very impressed.
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